all life is suffering

i don’t know where calvin found her
because he was always so upstanding
and his mother tried her hardest to keep him
locked up on friday nights

but there she was in our booth
dressed in black with black hair and black lipstick
a bloody mary in her hand
and a clove cigarette in the ashtray

i’m a wiccan, she said
i can do all kinds of spells and curses

are you responsible for my two year sex drought? i asked

maybe, she said.
she sucked on her drink and then sucked on her smoke

she winked at me
and everything around us smelt like cinnamon

you mean you don’t believe in jesus? calvin asked

i believe in the environment around us
and the magic of sex, she told us
we believe that religion and magic and wisdom are all united

you don’t know many catholics do you? i said
catholics will kill you where you stand

there’s a reason for your two year drought, she said
you’re angry, you’re not open enough

then she winked at me again
i started thinking about having sex with this wiccan
this wicked witch of pittsburgh

chanting naked in the woods
drinking deer blood and dancing around a fire
sacrificing whole neighborhoods of working stiffs
then praying to the moon
before we made tantric love on the cold ground

a little less angry
a little bit more open
her black lipstick on my neck

when she said, calvin, we do it just like everyone else
in committed, loving, monogamous relationships

then she winked at me a third time
before i got up to get another beer
and a shot of cheap bourbon

pumping dollars into the jukebox

thinking that only the buddhists
have never let me down.


Photography © Allison Goldin

Photography © Allison Goldin


John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), and the novel, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he constantly worries about the high cost of everything.

Allison Goldin is an artist living in Cambridge. Her work is a collection of spontaneous drawings from the imagination. The most common link throughout her art are the semi-recognizable creatures scattered amongst and bringing together the surrounding doodles. She is currently studying Illustration at The School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.